As summer winds down and fair season commences, those attending agriculture fairs where swine is present should be very careful. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 12 new cases of swine flu in three U.S. states. Those states include one case in Hawaii, 10 cases in Ohio and one case in Indiana. All cases have either had direct or indirect contact with swine flu and all but one case has been linked to attendance at agriculture fairs.
According to Butler County Health Department nine out of 10 the cases reported have tested positive for the H3N2v strain of swine flu. The tenth case has yet to be confirmed, but the reported illnesses have been linked to the Butler County Fair.
Those infected with the H3N2v virus can be infected through direct contact from swine to people and people to swine. Though swine flu cannot be transmitted by eating pork products, humans are at risk once in contact with live infected swine either at barns and/or livestock exhibits at fairs.
The CDC urges country goers, to take precautions when attending agriculture fairs. These precautions include but are not limited to:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and running water before and after exposure to animals.
- Never eat, drink or put things in your mouth while in animal areas and don’t take food or drink into animal areas.
- Young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems should be extra careful around animals.
- If you have animals – including swine – watch them for signs of illness and call a veterinarian if you suspect they might be sick.
- Avoid close contact with animals that look or act ill, when possible.
- Avoid contact with pigs if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
- If you must come in contact with pigs while you are sick, or if you must come in contact with pigs known or suspected to be infected, or their environment, you should use appropriate protective measures (for example, wear protective clothing, gloves, masks that cover your mouth and nose, and other personal protective equipment) and practice good respiratory and hand hygiene
Symptoms associated with direct contact with swine includes: coughing sore, throat, fever, body aches, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Currently, the Ohio Department of Health and the CDC are working feverishly to verify the severity of the illnesses reported. Presently, all patients who have been infected at Butler County's fair are not hospitalized.